UFC 276: Israel Adesanya beats Jared Cannonier to retain middleweight title

Israel Adesanya outpointed Jared Cannonier over five rounds to retain his middleweight title at UFC 276 in Las Vegas.

Adesanya, 32, used his superior movement and control of distance to out-strike Cannonier and secure a unanimous decision victory.

Following the win, the New Zealander called out Alex Pereira, who beat Sean Strickland earlier in the night.

“We know who’s next. I’ll put him on skates,” said Adesanya.

The fight has a backstory in that the Brazilian holds two victories over Adesanya in kickboxing before the pair transitioned to MMA.

In the co-main event, Alexander Volkanovski retained his featherweight title with a unanimous win over Max Holloway.

The Australian’s slick movement and counter-punching was the difference over five rounds as he beat his American counterpart for a third time, bringing their epic rivalry to a conclusion.

Since Adesanya became middleweight champion in 2019, he has dominated the division, outclassing every type of fighter he has come up against.

In Cannonier, he faced an opponent who has won five of his past six UFC fights, while displaying ferocious knockout power.

Despite Cannonier’s run, he was a heavy pre-fight underdog with bookmakers, with Adesanya saying in he saw nothing in the American’s game which he had not faced before.

The difference between the two was evident from the start.

While Cannonier jogged to the cage with intensity, Adesanya paid tribute to WWE’s The Undertaker, wearing a wide-brimmed hat, carrying an urn and walking slowly towards the octagon with his head bowed.

It was more evidence of the showmanship side of Adesanya which has moulded him into one of the UFC’s biggest stars.

The fight started with the crowd inside the T-Mobile Arena chanting Adesanya’s name as both fighters traded leg kicks.

As the bout wore on, Adesanya found a home for more of his strikes, landing a series of body kicks and rocking Cannonier with a straight right in the second round.

Cannonier’s only route to success during the first few rounds were kicks to Adesanya’s legs as the champion successfully avoided most of the challenger’s output.

During the latter rounds Cannonier resorted to some clinch work, but Adesanya’s excellent takedown defence nullified much of the danger.

The crowd jeered as the fight reached its conclusion – perhaps frustrated at a lack of explosive moments – as Adesanya navigated a successful points victory.

Asked about Pereira, Adesanya said: “I like the story. I’ve said this before that my whole life is like a movie.

“I’m facing the guy who beat me at kickboxing and now he’s chasing me because he knows I’m the king and he wants to take that away from me.

“You guys see what happens when my back’s against the wall. I look forward to fighting him.”


Kesh Awefada

Kesh Awefada

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